Opiates can range in appearance. Drugs like oxycodone and hydrocodone come in pill form. Because many opioids are combination drugs that are formulated with acetaminophen or aspirin, different pill colors can denote different strengths of the drug. These combinations may be pink, blue, peach or yellow.
Opiates are usually swallowed as pills to treat pain. However, if someone is misusing opioids, they may use an unapproved route of administration to feel the effects faster, including:
- Chewing the drug in order to increase absorption
- Crushing and snorting pills for faster entry into the bloodstream
- Dissolving crushed pills in water and injecting them intravenously
- Misusing opioid intravenous solutions (morphine, hydrocodone and fentanyl are manufactured as intravenous solutions for use in hospitals)
People who struggle with opiate addiction (opioid addiction) may store their pills in traditional orange pill bottles or hide them in mint tins or candy jars. If the person crushes their pills and snorts them, they may keep the powder in small bags, twisted in a piece of cling wrap or in a foil pouch.
Many people begin their opiate addiction (opioid addiction) with a legitimate prescription. These people may have had surgery or an illness for which they were prescribed an opioid painkiller that they became addicted to. For many people, prescription painkiller use leads to heroin addiction. In many cases, people who are in treatment for heroin addiction resorted to using heroin because prescription pills were more expensive and harder to obtain.
Heroin is derived from morphine and is typically sold in powder form. Heroin varies in color from white to brown. Besides powder form, heroin can also be found as granules and brown crystalline pieces called “rocks.”